Sale: 539 / Modern Art Day Sale, June 10. 2023 in Munich Lot 329


Erich Heckel
Schleuse, 1913.
Oil on canvas
€ 100,000 / $ 110,000
€ 139,700 / $ 153,670

(incl. surcharge)
Schleuse. 1913.
Oil on canvas.
Hüneke 1913-34. Vogt 1913-56. Lower right signed and dated. Once more signed and dated on the reverse. 70 x 80 cm (27.5 x 31.4 in).

• Made during a stay at the country house of the collector and patron Gustav Schiefler in the Hamburg environs in the summer of 1913.
• The Mellingburg Lock would become a key motif for Heckel during the stay – 4 of the 6 paintings are considered lost, destroyed or of unknown whereabouts.
• The artist gave a portrait format version of the motif as a gift to Gustav and Luise Schiefler, today the work is at the Brücke Museum in Berlin (Hüneke 1913-31).
• The present landscape format composition may well be considered the most dense and intimate one of the river landscapes, which marked the beginning of a period characterized by a new crystalline style influenced by Cubism.
• In 1913 Heckel had his first solo show at Galerie Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin.
• Significant provenance: from the collection of Eugen Buchthal

PROVENANCE: National-Sammlung von Kunst-und Wertgegenständen zu Gunsten der unter dem Protektorat seiner Majestät des Kaisers und Königs stehenden Nationalstiftung für die Hinterbliebenen der im Kriege Gefallenen (1917, with the lot number on the reverse).
Eugen Buchthal Collection, Berlin (from 1928 the latest - November 1933, with the hand-written note of ownership on the reverse).
Unknown (acquired from the above through Max Perl in November 1933).
Galerie Dr. Rainer Horstmann, Düsseldorf.
Hermann Gerlinger Collection, Würzburg (acquired from the above in 1972, with the collector's stamp, Lugt 6032).
Amicable agreement between the above and the heirs of Eugen Buchthal (2023).

The work is free from restitution claims. The offer is made subject to an amicable agreement with heirs of Eugen Buchthal on basis of a fair and just solution.

EXHIBITION: Erich Heckel. Gemälde, Graphik, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, January 15 - February 25, 1919, no. 22.
Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 1995-2001).
Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle an der Saale (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2001-2017).
Im Rhythmus der Natur: Landschaftsmalerei der "Brücke". Meisterwerke der Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Städtische Galerie, Ravensburg, October 28, 2006 - January 28, 2007, p. 107 (with illu.).
Expressiv! Die Künstler der Brücke. Die Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Albertina Vienna, June 1 - August 26, 2007, cat. no. 100 (with illu.).
Hamburger Ansichten. Maler sehen die Stadt, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, October 9, 2009 - February 14, 2010, cat. no. 51 (with illu.)
Buchheim Museum, Bernried (permanent loan from the Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2017-2022).
Brückenschlag: Gerlinger – Buchheim!, Buchheim Museum, Bernried, October 28, 2017 - February 25, 2018, pp. 266f. (with illu.).
Erich Heckel. Einfühlung und Ausdruck, Buchheim Museum, Bernried, October 31, 2020 - March 7, 2021, pp. 196f. (with illu.).

LITERATURE: Paul Vogt, Erich Heckel, Recklinghausen 1965, no. 1913-56 (with black-and-white illu.).
Cf. Hans Platte (ed.), Gustav Schiefler aus den Erinnerungen von Luise Schiefler, Hamburg 1965, color plate 6 and illu. pp. 34ff.
Karlheinz Gabler (ed.), Erich Heckel, Zeichnungen, Aquarelle, Dokumente, ex. cat. Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe et al, Stuttgart 1983, p. 119 (preliminary study).
Heinz Spielmann (ed.), Die Maler der Brücke. Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Stuttgart 1995, pp. 290f., SHG no. 428 (with illu.).
Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (eds.), Die Maler der Brücke. Inventory catalog Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Halle (Saale) 2005, pp. 198f., SHG no. 445 (with illu.).
Indina Woesthoff, ".. die Schwere unseres Weges kann wohl Freunde gebrauchen". Erich Heckel und Gustav Schiefler, in: Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (editors), Gemeinsames Ziel und eigene Wege. Die "Brücke" und ihr Nachwirken, Munich 2009, p. 60-69, here p. 65 (with illu.).
Andreas Hüneke, Erich Heckel, Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, Wandbilder und Skulpturen, vol. I 1904-1918, Munich 2017, no. 1913-34 (with illu.).
"What he was most occupied with was the landscape around the Mellingburg Lock."
Gustav Schiefler, quoted from: G. Schack (editor), Gustav Schiefler – Meine Grafiksammlung, 1974, p. 59.

Gustav Schiefler in Mellingstedt
In 1912 the "Brücke" patron and art lover Gustav Schiefler, director of the Hamburg District Court, acquired a country house in Mellingstedt near Hamburg. At first the family used it as a summer home, later the Schieflers lived there all year-round. The place is located on the river Alster in a local recreation area popular to this day. But even back then it attracted so many water sports enthusiasts that a special ramp to pull rowing and paddling boats over the Alster lock was built in 1910. (
In the following year Gustav Schiefler invited Erich Heckel and his wife Siddi to visit them in their new summer home. In his book "Meine Grafiksammlung" he provides detailled account of Heckel's stay in Mellingstedt: Heckel had his meals together with the Schieflers at their place while he stayedd at a small nearby inn. During the day he was engaged in drawing and painting the surrounding landscape "with great diligence", as Schiefler reports. The Mellingburger lock wasn’t far from the house. Gustav Schiefler reports: "But it was the landscape at the Mellingburger lock that he was mainly occupied with, whether in quiet solitude in the early morning or with the hustle and bustle of boats and bathers."
The important year 1913
The artist group "Brücke" broke up in In May 1913 because of a series of quarrels and general discrepancy. After this extremely eventful time, Erich Heckel found a little s peace in Schiefler's summer retreat. The artistic situation was new, and it wasn’t clear at that point how which direction things would take for Erich Heckel in the future. The transition from a member of a group to finding a new position as an individual artist was ultimately just as significant as the founding of the "Brücke", which provided fertile ground for the artistic development of its members for several years. Just like his fellow artists, Erich Heckel was in an entirely new situation. There was no profound dispute between the artists, but they had simply noticed that they all wanted to pursue different paths.

This situation perhaps explains why Heckel was so captivated by the image of the lock he happened to find near his host's house that he painted it several times. It offered him an opportunit to repeatedly apply - certainly unconsciously - working methods established over the previous years. A total of four paintings with this motif are known: "Mellingburger Alsterschleuse" (oil/canvas, Hüneke 1913-31), which today is at the Brücke Museum in Berlin, shows a downstream view. Gustav Schiefler acquired this work and gave it on loan to the Kunsthalle Hamburg from 1918-1927. Another painting of the lock is the today lost painting "Badende an der Alster" (Hüneke 1912-32). Siddi Heckel mentions in a letter that it was sent to the collector Carl Hageman in Leverkusen for viewing in 1915. He had ordered, among others, mentioned painting and "Schleuse" (Hüneke 1913-33, whereabouts unknown). These two works, like our painting from the Hermann Gerlinger Collection, show the lock with an upstream view. On the right we see the pier built in 1910. In abovementioned paintings, Erich Heckel chose different perspectives, making it seem as if he was searching for the right angle.
One can also interpret the motifs with regards to the group’s common artistic accomplishments. Especially the view through the trees is strongly reminiscent of the compositional patterns of the "Brücke", as we know them from works made at the Moritzburg Ponds. However, with the expansive view of the lock in the present painting Heckel attained a liberated, open solution. The calm water, the moving trees and the cloudy sky add a certain vastness to the situation. It seems like the result of a gradual liberation from habitual creative patterns. Heckel characterized the various areas with great lightness. The thin application of paint in the foreground of the picture allows the water to play with light and reflections, while the accentuated brushstrokes in the area of the trees add great dynamic and the sky bears the typical crystalline structures of this creative period.
The Provenance
The reverse side of this extraordinary painting is no less interesting than the front. A barely legible inscription in Sütterlin script catches the eye only at a second glance do you notice: "Eugen Buchahl (sic) Linden Allee 22". This name is well known: In the 1920s, the Berlin merchant Eugen Buchthal owned an outstanding collection of modern art, and with the "Villa Buchthal" on Berlin's Lindenallee, he had an architectural masterpiece of Expressionism built - life as a total work of art. The impressive building, extensively renovated today, can still be found today in Berlin's Westend. We can well imagine Heckel's "Schleuse" on the walls of this avant-garde building. The ownership note – the name is not spelled correctly – was presumably put there in context of an exhibition loan, and also reveals an error that has been handed down since 1957. In 1957, for example, a different version of the motif "Schleuse" was on display at an exhibition in Stuttgart (Hüneke 1913-33), and accidentally (at that point there was no catalogue raisonné) all known exhibitions of a painting "Schleuse" from 1913 were assigned to the Stuttgart work. Among them we also find the epochal ""Ausstellung neuerer deutscher Kunst aus Berliner Privatbesitz" (Exhibition of Modern German Art from Berlin Private Collections) from 1928, in the catalog of which Eugen Buchthal is noted as the owner. In this way, the Hüneke 1913-33 version was accidentally brought in connection with the Buchthal provenance for the first time, and the repetition in the auction catalogs of 1960 and 1975 cemented this as an apparent fact. Only a more detailed examination of the present work reveals the actual historical line of ownership. A discovery fraught with consequences, because the Jewish Buchthal family not only belonged to the avant-garde, but was also persecuted by the Nazi regime as of 1933. Eugen Buchthal parted with Heckel's great painting "Schleuse" in November 1933, years before he fled, but obviously not voluntarily. Meanwhile, his daughter Anne Gerda was unable to complete her orthopedic training after the National Socialists had seized power. When she wanted to register for the preliminary exam in the fall of 1933, she was not admitted because of her Jewish origins. For this reason, she made plans to emigrate to Paris (cf. BLHA Potsdam, OFP 36 A A 585). However, she needed 15,000 RM for the official emigration application on October 12, 1933, in order to obtain the necessary "permanent immigration visa" from the French consulate. Her father Eugen wanted to give her the money. Even if Anne Gerda's plan failed - the tax authorities in Berlin ultimately refused her application - the fact that Eugen Buchthal sold several works from his beloved art collection in an auction in November 1933 must be seen in this context. The "Schleuse" also went to an unknown bidder for 160 RM - the Buchthal Collection would be history for the painting. Since 1975, Heckel's masterpiece has been part of a no less important Expressionist collection: the collection of Hermann Gerlinger. In view of the new findings, the latter declared himself willing to find a "just and fair solution" in accordance with the Washington principles with Eugen Buchthal's heirs without hesitation. And so Heckel's "Schleuse" can now be handed over to the next generation of lovers of Expressionism, free of any claims for restitution and with the best agreement of all those involved. [EH/AT]

Erich Heckel
Schleuse, 1913.
Oil on canvas
€ 100,000 / $ 110,000
€ 139,700 / $ 153,670

(incl. surcharge)